Families Continue Search For Fallen Heroes
On Veterans Day, families take time to pay respects to their fallen heroes.
But there are thousands of people who have never gotten the chance to honor their loved ones because their remains have never been positively identified.
Nineteen-year-old Julius L. Schumacher was killed in action with his army unit in 1945.
But questions about his remains have never been answered.
The cases of more than 3,000 men from World War II who called Ohio home are in a similar situation.
But with new research, answers may not be too far away.
It's a mystery 70 years in the making, and 87-year-old Helen Genoozis has one of the clues.
“He was a tall fellow, thin," Genoozis, as she paged through her old Columbus High School yearbook.
"He was a quiet boy," she added. “I was never in any classes with him.”
Helen says she remembers Julius graduating in January of 1944.
In the yearbook, it says friends called Julius ‘Schu,' as a nickname.
His last was also spelled with a 'k' instead of a 'ch.'
Despite that discrepancy, records show he lived at 212 East Sycamore Street in German Village, but his father died before he was born in 1926, and he was raised by his widowed mother.
Soon after he joined the army and was sent to fight in the South Pacific.
Less than a year later, he was killed in action on Okinawa.
Despite a commanding officer's confirmation and a mountain of reports, the army concluded the data was insufficient to positively identify him.
There was even what's believed to be a love letter found in the GI's pocket that read, 'Somewhere in the Pacific', addressed to 'Dearest Vera,' and signed ‘Julius...’
One researcher says the army never dug deep enough.
“I know 100 percent that the remains in question are those of Julius L. Schumacher from Columbus, there’s no doubt in my mind," said Ted Darcy, with the WFI Research Group.
Darcy believes the unidentified remains known as ‘X-34’ -- eventually buried in the Philippines -- are those of Julius Schumacher. He bases that on enhanced computer data that has helped pinpoint new clues in the Schumacher and other investigations.
Julius' Mother wrote the Army many times after she learned of his death, asking them to ‘ease her worry.’
Her letters also say Julius was all she had in the world, and she begged the army for answers she never got, even to her deathbed.
“It's sad, it's really sad, and I can tell you from talking to the next of kin, seventy years later, the pain is still there," Darcy said.
Helen Genoozis says she is praying the family finally finds closure, after all these years of uncertainty.
“I hope there's a happy ending to it, to bring his body back," she said.
Darcy says he's getting ready to present his case to JPAC, The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, part of the Department of Defense group charged with identifying remains from previous wars.
Darcy says it’s crucial that someone from Julius Schumacher's maternal side of the family comes forward and submits DNA to make that positive identification.
10TV wants to acknowledge the South Columbus High School Alumni Association and the Columbus Metropolitan Library for their assistance in research for this story.